Court dates set for hikers charged with trespassing
Jul. 17, 2017
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Court dates have been set for 48 adults cited for trespassing into the closed Kohala Forest Reserve and Kohala Restricted Watershed.
Aug. 8, 15 and 29 and Sept. 12 and 19 have been set for those cited July 8 for simple trespass.
Courts normally have been issuing fines of $150 for people found guilty, said Deborah Ward, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Forty-nine adults were written citations, according to a written Department of Land and Natural Resources statement on July 8, but Ward calls that a "miscount." Officials say 14 juveniles also were found trespassing during a sweep by Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement Officers, but minors were issued written warnings. the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/2ur1gn5 ).
Access to the Department of Agriculture's Upper Hamakua Ditch Trail, also known as the White Road hike, was closed to the public after the 6.7-magnitude Kiholo earthquake on Oct. 15, 2006, which was followed by an additional 6.0-magnitude shake just seven minutes later, said Steve Bergfeld, Department of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Island branch manager. There were no deaths directly attributed to the earthquake, but it did cause at least $200 million in property damage.
Although illegal, the hike has been popularized via social media. Photos and videos can be found on just about every social media website.
Bergfeld said the Kohala Restricted Watershed "is the domestic water supply for Waimea and the surrounding area." He said hunters, hikers, gatherers and researchers can enter the Kohala Restricted Watershed with a permit issued by the Department of Forestry and Wildlife. Bergfeld said hunters with permits are allowed "because of the beneficial effects of removing ungulates from a domestic water supply collection."
However, only those who can provide the Department of Forestry and Wildlife with a written letter from the private landowners or leaseholders that they have permission to cross their property will be issued permits to access the White Road area of the Kohala Restricted Watershed, Bergfeld said.
It is possible for someone to enter the Kohala Restricted Watershed without seeing a sign, Bergfeld said, but officers who cited the hikers July 8 said all admitted to crawling over two locked gates and ignoring "numerous closed and no trespassing signs."